When Destiny first launched in 2014, months – years – of immeasurable hype had boiled to a point where it seemed that almost nothing would be able to meet everyone’s astronomical expectations. Unfortunately for Bungie and Destiny, it didn’t.
Now, halfway through Destiny‘s second year, we look forward at the highly, yet cautiously, anticipated release of the second major instalment in the franchise – a game currently known as Destiny 2.
What Happened with Destiny?
While there were a number of issues found with the story, some key features, and balancing at launch, it seemed as though Destiny‘s biggest pitfall was the glaring inconsistency between the pre-release product and the final product.
As has since been revealed, there were massive changes in direction in regards to story and playable content, and as a result the fans eagerly awaiting release played a different game than they were expecting, hence the widespread disappointment.
After spending some time playing it, it’s quite obvious that Destiny isn’t necessarily a bad game:
- The gameplay is incredibly well built and smooth to boot
- The world-building (even though most of it is done outside the game itself) is phenomenal, and;
- Its activities are some of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had with a first person shooter (my personal favourites being the challenging Raids and the Trials of Osiris multiplayer mode)
Rather, Destiny falls short because it’s a shadow of a great game. While playing through the story you can see the groundwork laid for an incredible experience, albeit one that finally started to rear its head in the Taken King expansion.
Unfortunately, that’s all it really amounts to for most of the game – a great teaser that stops just short of giving you the real deal.
What do we want from Destiny 2?
With that in mind, we can observe how Destiny faltered in its first steps as a new IP, and how Destiny 2 can improve on what worked and fix what didn’t.
As it so happens, we have a list of what we would like to see in Destiny 2.
1. In-game Matchmaking or LFG
One thing that plagues Destiny‘s PvE activities is the lack of matchmaking support within the game – while Bungie has listened and implemented the feature for some activities, the biggest thorn in players’ sides is the lack of matchmaking for Raids, which largely require 6 players to complete.
A chief complaint since day one, matchmaking makes sense to incorporate into Destiny 2 because it’s such an easy, dependable tool that doesn’t require players to leave the game in order to get what they want (by heading to fan-hosted LFG sites and the like).
A similar alternative to matchmaking would be an in-game LFG system, wherein players can send out an LFG request for a particular activity while in-game – so you can be Patrolling the Moon, but Friends and random players can see that you’re looking to start the Nightfall and need a group.
2. Flying Your Ship
When players initially saw that their characters in Destiny would own a ship – and get to travel in them around the solar system, no less – there was a lot of excitement. Upon release, it turned out that players’ ships were, in fact, gorgeous loading screens while travelling between planets.
Given the fan disappointment and missed opportunity for the genre and style of game, a potential improvement to Destiny 2 would be to make these ships flyable.
It would be interesting to see, because there are so many possibilities for how something like this could be implemented:
- Would it be a mini-game where you control your ship during the loading screen?
- Would there be a sole mission(s) or segment dedicated to flying your ship through the level?
- Would you have full control your ship and travel from planet to planet (a la Elite: Dangerous)?
I would imagine it crossed Bungie’s mind at some point during Destiny‘s development, but given that Destiny 2 won’t be hindered by the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3’s inferior hardware, it’s possible we may see some improvements that weren’t possible in the first game.
3. Dedicated Servers
An issue with Destiny‘s infrastructure since launch has been the lack of dedicated servers – in its current state, the game relies on peer-to-peer connection.
While dedicated servers may not necessarily fix latency issues found on a game-to-game basis, there’s a possibility that they will help improve issues related to host privileges, chief of which is discrepancy between what the host sees and what everyone else sees (think of all those times you’ve run behind a wall but still been shot, and in the kill-cam you’re actually not behind the wall at all).
Improvements relating to connectivity are a big request among Destiny‘s fanbase, given that its an online-only game, and dedicated servers are at the top of the list. Whether they’re a cost-viable option for Bungie and Activision to pursue in the making of Destiny 2 remains to be seen, but we can hope.
4. A Heavier Focus on Telling the Story
It goes without saying that Destiny‘s story is one of its biggest failings, in spite of the rich lore and universe that provided so much promise.
We’re not going to get into ‘why’ Destiny‘s story is so lacking, because it’s been discussed to death at this point; rather, we’re going to look at elements they can improve or incorporate to hopefully ensure a stronger sense of story in Destiny 2.
Have the Grimiore accessible in-game
Destiny‘s Grimiore cards are infamous for providing 90% of Destiny‘s primary story and rich lore, yet only being accessible via Bungie.net or the Destiny app. Having these in-game as well would provide an in-universe way for players to experience Destiny‘s history, or stories that might not be able to be told on-screen.
Mass Effect‘s Codexes are a good example of having extensive lore available to read in-game – there are always those who won’t, but it severely reduces the barrier-of-entry for those already playing the game.
Expand on character personalities in cutscenes and in-game
A big flaw of Destiny‘s story was that none of the named characters had any real traits that they could show off, beyond what the player is told (rather than shown, in defiance of the narrative rule ‘show don’t tell’.
The Taken King expansion is where Destiny really started to hit this note – characters like Cayde-6, who used to be not much more than a gear vendor, started interacting with other characters in cutscenes and dialogue heard during missions.
As a result, we got to see how Cayde-6 treated the other members of the Vanguard, how they treated him, how he moved, his mannerisms, and understand his motivations as a character. Importantly, this was demonstrated in both the cutscenes and mission dialogue.
Destiny 2 needs this kind of character portrayal and – more importantly – development.
5. More in-depth Social Elements
Marketed as a ‘social experience’ because of the shared-world aspect of Destiny‘s online design, the game disappointed at launch when it turned out that these social aspects amounted to little more than four emotes and randomly passing by someone in Patrol mode who disappears 20 metres later.
While the community has made it work (and what is there works great), it just needs… more. Potential additions could include:
- The above-mentioned LFG or matchmaking would help the community interact within the game
- Enlarging how the barriers for instances – players disappear far too quickly when run into in the wild, though this most likely came down to a hardware issue with previous-gen consoles.
- Higher Fireteam limit in Patrol mode (currently 3)
- Activities that force players to interact with one another (this could include public events or quests – think a social space like The Reef is under attack, and if it’s successfully defended then all Destiny players earn a reward from the Postmaster, or The Tower starts a player-run economy)
There are a lot of different elements that Bungie could look at, from the elaborate ‘economy’ route to simply expanding the emote library. As it stands, I don’t have the knowledge necessary to say how feasible such changes are, but the point still stands – Destiny isn’t much of a ‘social’ game, so that’s where Destiny 2 will have to pick up the slack.
Destiny 2 is due for release around late 2017, after it was delayed from a release later this year (which has now been replaced by an expansion release). This is great news, because it gives Bungie the time to turn Destiny 2 into the game that Destiny should have been.
I personally have immense fun playing Destiny, even though I was ‘burned’ by the hype. I’m cautious about Bungie’s second instalment, but very, very interested to see where they’ll take the series. I hope you are, too.